It generally happens every two years. The event may be seen as a natural phenomenon – or maybe rather a cultural phenomenon. I am sure it looks strange if observed from outside the community. A lot of people of all ages and affiliations meet up in places most of us usually did not even know existed, and we have the best week of our work-year.
The bi-annual International Colloquium on Amphipoda (ICA) is without doubt the scientific meeting I look most forward to. Every time. The fun, the science, the amphipods, the friendships, the coffee, the familiar banter, the late nights and early mornings, the discussions – all in an atmosphere of friendship.
The first day of any ICA could be mistaken for a family-gathering – or the opening credits of any film about best friends. The room resounds of “oh – finally – there you are!”, “how are the kids/grandkids?”, “I missed you this last hour! Thought maybe you got lost since you weren’t here immediately” and not least “Come, let me give you that hug I promised!” Ten minutes later everybody will be organised by the large Polish group for some gathering or fun – and the rest of us are trying to find out how we can get one of the cool group-t-shirts the Łodz-group have concocted this year. Or maybe we should rather go for one of the other cool t-shirts picturing amphipods?
We do talk amphipods, of course. The incredible variety of the group (of animals – as well as people) opens up for a wide spectre of research-questions and approaches, and meetings allow time to learn from each other, get inspired, start new collaborations and share samples and ideas.
This years ICA was held in Trapani, Sicily – where prof Sabrina LoBrutto on a short one year notice had organised the meeting. The three days we met were packed with more than 60 talks, more than 60 posters and loads and loads of happy amphidologists. With the University situated right across the road from the beach, and a lunch hour long enough for both a coffee and a swim/sample search the friendly atmosphere stretched to drying towels on the railings of the university-hall and sea-salted hairstyles for many after lunch.
We always try to publish the Amphipod Newsletter to coincide with the ICA. You can download the newsletter both from the World Amphipoda Database and the Biodiversity Heritage Library (both places also have back-issues available for downloads). One of the features of the newsletter is a bibliography of amphipod-related literature, and a list of new taxa. Since last AN we have 79 new species, 14 new genera and 12 new families! Every AN includes an interview with one of the amphipodologists – this year you can get to know Wolfgang Zeidler and his Hyperiidea better.
The next ICA? In two years we meet in Dijon, France! I am already excited – and maybe there will be mustard-coloured t-shirts in honour of the location (or burgundy-coloured t-shirts)? What I know already, is that it is going to be like meeting family.